In 2012, I moved across the world to China. I was over trying to go to college and needed to find a place where I felt I belonged. That’s where I met Jacob and where my life would take a huge turn.
Jacob was the little boy who lived on the first level of our apartment. His family, which included a grandpa, grandma, mom, and dad – were the caretakers of our apartment. Each day when I came home from school, Jacob was outside playing—the cutest little boy with the most contagious little smile. He and I became fast friends. I would spend my days after school playing in the courtyard with him, or cutting jeans with his family.
Eventually I learned that despite the fact Jacob had four adults to take care of him, who all worked 12+ hours a day, Jacob would not be able to attend school. Where he lives, school costs $1,200 a semester from Kindergarten until 5th or 6th grade. The idea is that if you can’t afford to send your kids to school, they will end up staying where they are and working in the same factories their parents work in. In other words, there was no opportunity for growth.
Knowing that school should be a right for all children, not a privilege, I knew I needed to do something to help Jacob – but what? I kept my heart and mind on this issue day in and day out. What was I going to do to make sure Jacob could attend school? Then one day the answer came to me while I was sitting on my bed looking at my dirty (clothing was everywhere) floor.
I would sell scarves.
And so, Jacob’s Scarves began! I didn’t really know anything at all about running a business, and I’ve had to learn a LOT since starting. I’ve also quit four or seven times for the shear stress of it all – but now it’s doing better than ever, and I’m loving it more and more.
One of the main reasons I have fallen in love with this work is the opportunity I have had to learn about the issues of purchasing with a purpose. I don’t think we realize how often we purchase things that were made in, to be honest, inhumane ways; from our clothing, to our electronics, to our bedding. The things we buy every day make an impact on the world – and I think the world would look a lot different if we became more aware of where our money was really going.
What if your toasters provided warm meals for those in need? Or your nail polish provided counseling for girls who were in sex trafficking? What if your pasta helped artisans launch their own businesses, or your scarves provided an education for children?
Purchasing with a purpose means you are buying more then a product, you are buying something that has a story, a true connection to a human being. You know where the product is coming from, who made it, and how your purchase is making a difference.
Owning Jacob’s Scarves has been a real eye opener for me. The scarves we sell help send kids to school. And they actually do. There are currently five children in school, who wouldn’t otherwise be, if my customers had not purchased our scarves.
As consumers, we can change the world, and I think that is important to know and believe. I encourage everyone to look for companies that do more than just provide a product. Make purchasing with a purpose your thing – and watch as the world changes for the better.
Story written by: Kiri Berdan
This story was seen first on Real Imprints.